Three NFL draft gems that can elevate the already dangerous Denver Broncos

George Paton in December. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.
George Paton in December. Credit: Ron Chenoy, USA TODAY Sports.

Denver Broncos general manager George Paton is a self-proclaimed draft guy and he endeared himself to Broncos Country with his masterful draft selections in 2021. Broncos fans were introduced to first-round pick, now fan-favorite, Patrick Surtain but even more impressive was his ability to find value in the late rounds of the draft.

Paton came away with contributors like Baron Browning, Caden Sterns, and Jonathon Cooper, players all selected outside of the top 100 picks.

There seems to be an innate love and understanding of the draft process that Paton possesses. He knows the difference between a good team and a great team is finding value with every pick you possess. Hitting on a first-round selection is far easier than finding the hidden gems on Days 2 and 3, and any of these players below can become an ancillary pieces in the Denver Broncos future success.

Jalen Wydermyer, TE, Texas A&M (4th/5th round)

With the departure of Noah Fant the Broncos will be looking to shore up their tight end room with potential. No one player will be able to replace Fant, but there is value at the tight end position late in the 2022 NFL Draft

Jalen Wydermyer has playmaker potential with a game that will undoubtedly translate to the NFL game.

As a pass-catcher, Wydermyer has very good hands and can make tough catches outside of his frame. Very rarely does he drop the ball and when he does get his hands on the rock, he has sufficient speed and size to get downfield. He is difficult to bring down one-on-one allowing him to gain yards after the catch and move the chains

Texas A&M used him all over the field, including in the traditional tight end alignments but also out wide and in the slot. His versatility would allow Nathaniel Hackett to move him around freely to take advantage of match-ups in the passing game.

As far as blocking goes, he is a willing blocker in the run game and can get movement with his strong physique, but still needs seasoning. He will sometimes play with poor leverage which forces him back on his heels. As a pass protector he has the potential to be above average. This wasn’t something he was asked to do much with the Aggies but his toughness is present, and will give whomever he is assigned to face off against utter hell.

It may not be the flashy and exciting high-ceiling pick that Noah Fant was, but he could be a very strong addition to a team that is looking to win now.

JT Woods, S, Baylor (3rd/4th round)

JT Woods is a player that could potentially see a big jump in value during the Draft if someone falls in love with the obvious tools he possesses.

This University of Baylor senior was a late addition to the Senior Bowl, but that was opportunity enough for him to show why he was included at such a highly respected scouting event. All week Woods flashed on the field, showing off his unique and lanky 6-foot-2, 195-pound frame, but his biggest highlight came at the very end of the Senior Bowl game itself. Woods broke on an underthrown ball downfield by Bailey Zappe of Western Kentucky and came up with the game-sealing interception.

Woods’ athletic testing was off the charts at the combine clocking an official 4.36 40-yard dash and landing a 39.5 inch vertical leap. It was no secret, after putting up those impressive numbers, that teams will be keeping the young safety on their collective radars.

The freakish athletic traits are exciting, however Woods has strong elements to his game aside from sheer physical prowess. On the field Woods is fearless. His ability to read an opposing quarterback’s eyes is impressive and is a large reason he finished the season with six interceptions, leading the Big 12. He can gamble at times or be baited by a savvy signal caller, but generally has a good feel and instinct on the gridiron.

To me, Woods seems like he could develop into what the Broncos envision Jamar Johnson could potentially be; a roaming safety who can make game-changing plays with his speed and aggression. A player capable of plucking the ball out of the air or getting downhill into the box, bludgeoning backs as an enforcer in the running game.

If the Broncos were able to snag such a talent in the 3rd or 4th Round, they could have themselves a young, hungry player who is ready to come in and compete on day one.

Velus Jones Jr., WR, Tennessee (6th round)

If the Broncos are looking for a receiver that can help them in the slot and as a dangerous returner, they need to look no further than wide receiver Velus Jones Jr. of the University of Tennessee.

Jones Jr. moves at breakneck speed and has the potential to take any ball he gets his mitts on to the house. He primarily functioned out of the slot with the Vols, but he is a player that you want to get in space and let him work. Most of Jones’ receptions were within ten yards of the line of scrimmage where he was tasked to gather yards after the catch, which he did with great efficiency. His great contact balance and toughness helped his effectiveness in this role and are some of his biggest strengths.

Having run a pretty simple route tree in college, Jones will need some seasoning and coaching to expand his capabilities. Fortunately for Denver, they already have a strong stable of wide receivers so any addition to this unit can be used on developmental players like Jones. The biggest unknown with the redshirt senior is his ability to track the long ball or make catches down the field. Not because he is not capable of doing so but simply because that is not how he was utilized at Tennessee.

His biggest upside is in an area of need for Denver and that is as a kick/punt returner. Jones has shown a propensity to make big plays in the return game and can take it to the house if things break correctly.

As a Day 3 pick, he could end up being a strong specialist on this Broncos team and fill an area of need on special teams. The risk is there but the reward could be great for this likely 6th round selection.

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